about this blog

raison d’etre of The Sustainability Thing is that we collectively, both globally and locally, are facing extraordinarily complex matters of concern: requiring of us different ways of working and being. I am searching for a new and very different form of “ark”. I am asking others to join me on this search.

I am, in this blog and in my practice, using an “emerging” model, that is, by having an idea and then going out with this idea and having conversations I am confident that the idea will change and shape shift, something more or different will emerge.

This means that The Sustainability Thing will change and shift over time. It also means it is hard for me to get started. As I have just finished writing my thesis I have been used to getting it perfect, complete and finished, even though I was writing about something that is none of these things. My practice is emergent, open-ended and continuing, with moments of closing in, or clottings of routine.

Also this blog is intended to develop into an interaction with others, the amount of stuff about me and my thoughts required is thus a question yet to be resolved.

Exploration of The Sustainability Thing

Definition of Thing (Oxford Concise Dictionary)

Whatever is or may be an object of thought.

From OE thing, OHG ding meaning public assembly etc.

The etymology is very interesting in that thing means a public assembly. I use the word thing in The Sustainability Thing in this sense of the gathering that is associated with such an assembly.

Definition of Sustainability

 SUS(tenere) is to hold

In Our Common Future, 1987 the Brundtland Commission defined sustainable development as that which “meets the needs of present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. The Commission was linking two ideas that had been kept apart – the elimination of poverty with protecting the environment. Sustainable development though foregrounds the human – humanity’s needs are above all others. The notion of sustainability is closer to the idea of ‘deep ecology’, where humans are not special but are a part of the whole complex ecosystem (after Hector, 2008).    

But the thing about the words sustainability and sustainable is that they have a sense of being able to be achieved, that there is an end outcome, but we know this is not so, it is better to say that some thing is more sustainable, or that we are moving towards sustainability. The verb sustaining is better in that it provides the sense that we are always going to have to work on this thing we call sustainability and on being more sustainable.

The word sustaining is used in Braungart & McDonoughs’ Cradle to Cradle  when they talk about it being important to do “good” for the environment rather than “less bad”. This together with the idea of eco-effectiveness is what they are striving for. 

To take this further is to consider the idea of “mutually beneficial relating”, the “relating” of this phrase is not just for people but for all things including the environment.  

Further the question that I continually ask myself is “what are we sustaining?”

So the phrase The Sustainability Thing has this sense of a gathering. This is an object of thought and of questioning around the issue of what we are sustaining.

1 Response to About

  1. Hi Jenni,

    I read your website with interest and enthusiasm. I am pleased we are on the SV group together as I share your thoughts and questions. When I began my Masters in The Arts in Therapy (Dramatherapy) at LaTrobe some years ago my research then took me on an interesting path with the same research methodology. I found it amusing that my Supervisor called this approach a ‘phenomenological post positivist paradigm’.

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